Premier Dwight Ball says 270 tasks have been assigned to the military service members since they arrived in St. John’s on Sunday, with 160 of them completed so far.
Ball, and ministers Steve Crocker and Derrick Bragg gave an update on Tuesday on the cleanup following the massive blizzard over the weekend.
Ball says the 200-300 military service members in the city are here until the job is done.
“We’re not talking about an exit. We’re talking about responding to the needs to the people,” he said.
“They will stay as long it takes to get those needs dealt with.”
Ball says the emergency centre in the east end of St. John’s has faced a flood of calls.
“The volume is extremely high right now. We’ve put in additional lines to handle the volume. We’re getting to the tasks that have been assigned,” said Ball.
Yesterday we had a first-hand look at the operations and logistics of our troops at the Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander W. Anthony Paddon Building for #OPLentus. Thank you BGen Pelletier for briefing us and hats off to the entire team for your service. @JTFA_FOIA @CFOperations #nlwx pic.twitter.com/ZfwRhswxAB— Premier of NL (@PremierofNL) January 22, 2020
Ball says the province is adding three snowblowers and staff to the clean-up efforts, which will come in service tomorrow afternoon. Ball says the equipment will make its way to St. John’s as soon as possible.
“The reason we’re doing this is that provincial infrastructure, the roads, networks, and main thoroughfares are getting to the point where we can bring this equipment to St. John’s,” he said.
Ball says the priority right now is getting St. John’s up and running.
Equipment will also be sent from municipalities as far west as Grand Falls-Windsor. Ball says Mount Pearl and Paradise will get to a place soon to be able to assist with the clean-up efforts in St. John’s.
As the clean up continues, Ball says there have been no estimates of potential damage to provincial infrastructure as a result off the historic storm, but those assessments will come.
“We’re getting early reports on the damage. We’ve been working with federal officials to what we will see with disaster relief mechanisms. These are discussions that we will have, once we get the clean-up finished, that’s the priority for us. Safety is the priority for us,” he said.
“Once we get beyond where we are today, we’ll be keeping tallies and totaling up what it would be. We have some months to be able to do this.”
Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker says provincial highways in and around St. John’s still have some snow cover, but are returning to a driveable state.
“We have two challenges right now, one is the Witless Bay Line. We have one cut through, we just drove the Witless Bay Line,” he said.
“The other challenge in metro is the Team Gushue (Highway). Our crews will be on Team Gushue today and overnight to get that in shape as well. Right now, we’re seeing some fair winter driving on our provincial road infrastructure.”
But Crocker says the best bet for everyone is to stay off the road.
“Proceed with caution, snow means slow."